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My dear friend, Marty, just gave me the perfect gift. It’s a snuggly-soft cotton T-shirt emblazoned with a perfect quote: “With My Mind on My Tacos, and My Tacos on My Mind.” I wear it proudly, as I stuff myself with street tacos, those lovely, tiny soft corn tortillas topped simply in grilled meat, diced onion, cilantro, salsa and a squeeze of lime.

Fortunately, I live in Sebastopol, and just minutes from the Roseland area of Santa Rosa. The area has long been rich with Mexican restaurants, and the bounty just keeps getting better. The mile-long stretch of Sebastopol Road from Stony Point Road to Dutton Avenue is, in particular, a Mexican food mecca. Longtime favorites here include Pepe’s and La Texanita; newcomers include Del Valle on the west end, and Tacos al Carbon on the east.

Then, there’s the brilliant new Barrio Fresca Cocina Mexicana at the Barlow, which I reviewed on April 6. These street tacos are art, adorned in microgreens and flower petals, atop handmade tortillas infused with flavors like salsa de chile seco.

This spring, Marty and I decided to go on a mission. We vowed to sample every one of the two dozen or so Mexican restaurants and taco trucks around my ’hood. Through the delicious process, we found some exceptional spots worth a drive from across the county.

We also found a few places to pass on —for example, we didn’t feel the love at the very popular Carniceria Contreras on Todd Road west of Stony Point. The taco stand was out of chicken, the order taker told us, though the stand shares its space with a butcher shop stocked with lots of poultry. Then, the tacos we got were meagerly dressed with meat, the quesadilla cheese came out of a Lucerne bag and our to-go order didn’t include any salsa.

Overall, though, it’s hard to go wrong with the Roseland area’s gorgeous Mexican food. If you’re craving casual, authentic, and flavorful, try these standouts:

Delicias Elenitas: This silver metal-clad slice of heaven sits in front of La Fondita, parked permanently with a white tent shading its order counter, tamale steam box (tamales $2) and custom elote station for roasted corn on the cob gussied in toppings like mayo, cotija and finely ground red chile ($3). Owned by the Reyes family since 1996, it’s extraordinarily popular, staying open until 1 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday. But brave the lines, for the superb, generously piled street tacos ($1.50) in myriad meats like asada, pastor, carnitas, chicken, chorizo, tripa (beef intestine), cabeza (succulent beef cheek), suadero (chewy beef from above the cow udder), cochinita pibil, or lengua (beef tongue, $2). Tacos are all dressed with cilantro, diced white or red onion depending on the meat, and various salsas. But fair warning — those salsa are fiercely fiery, sizzling lips and searing tongues and making eyes water in happiness. 816 Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa, 707-575-7021.

Taqueria California: The quesadillas are beautiful creatures, nearly hubcap in size and fat with cheese and meats alongside chunky guacamole and sour cream ($8.75). The lengthy menu gets fancy, too, with mouthwatering plates like camarones a la diabla served alongside avocado salad, silky cheese-laced refrieds and pitch-perfect Mexican rice ($13.99). Street tacos are pricey at $2.25-$3, but Taco Tuesdays mean pigging out on 99-cent beauties, including complimentary thick, addictive, homemade chips and unlimited visits to the salsa bar with its pico de gallo, hot red and mild green sauces, grilled onions and peppers, and creamy guac spiked with chile. 750 Stony Point Road, Santa Rosa, 707-595-3363.

Taqueria El Favorito: This crowd favorite gets points for having a drive-through, though it also has two dining rooms. Burritos ($6.25-$9.75) are particularly wonderful, with super spice that sneaks up on you, and the option of drenching your bomb in cheese-laced enchilada sauce.

Seafood rocks, as well, in more than a dozen choices like filete a la plancha ($11.95). The salsa bar can be dangerous, since it’s packed with so many goodies including pico, escabeche, and thick red, green and orange chile purees. Just don’t get greedy – on one visit, the shopkeeper yelled at us from across the restaurant for filling too many little plastic cups (other customers just laughed). 565 Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa, 707-526-7444.

El Roy’s Mexican Grill: Ignacio Álvarez’s bright orange Taqueria truck beckons from the parking lot of his other business, Joyería María, an eclectic shop selling jewelry, bus tickets to Mexico and grooming products. It’s a great stop for authentic bites like bacon-wrapped Mexidogs ($3), sopes de buche (thick tortillas mounded in fried pork stomach, $3.50) and “half-half” burritos boasting two kinds of meat ($6-$8). Tacos ($1.50) impress with signatures of fish or shrimp, but be prepared to pay 25 cents more for pico de gallo. 760 Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa, 707-843-2166.

Super Taco: It’s hard to miss Miguel Reyes’ vivid orange truck, which is a great thing, since it’s a very worthy destination. Particularly for the tacos ($1.50). The meaty mouthfuls come dressed in robust but not fiery salsa; for more burn, you can add the thin green and red sauces packed alongside. Carnitas rule, exquisitely tender and crisp-edged. Ask about secret specials, too, and you might be rewarded with tacos de suadero, tostadas de ceviche ($5), or gorditas de chicharron (delicious fried pork skin, $4). 1840 Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa, 707-694-9427.

La Texanita: Chef Duskie Estes of Sebastopol’s marvelous Zazu, says this is her favorite taco joint. One of the classiest places on Mexi-Mile, it’s a sit-down affair amid bold grape, lemon and giraffe pelt-patterned painted walls. A large menu tempts with signatures like molcajete, a salsa stew served in a volcanic rock bowl brimming with beef, chicken, shrimp, nopales (cactus), green onions and baked panela cheese alongside scoops of rice, beans and salad ($18.95). A chile relleno burrito ($10.95) is two favorite dishes rolled into one, and you can make it even more decadent by requesting panela stuffed inside ($2). 1667 Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa, 707-525-1905, latexanita.com.

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